What are Transferable Skills? A Definitive Guide

The term “transferable skills” refers to the ability that you can apply to different careers and jobs. Over time, it can be acquired and refined. It is often a result of training and education.  Consequently, they will be in demand by many businesses. 

Different activities and workplace environments help to develop these skills over time. It is their capability to be applied to any work environment, in almost any business sector or profession you may choose to enter later in your career. 

However, what exactly makes a skill transferable? This article will provide you with some specific examples of transferable skills as well as tips on how to use them effectively on your resume or cover letter.

What is the Meaning of Transferable Skills?

Someone who has transferable skills is able to use them in different situations, to perform different jobs, or to deal with new environments.

The concept of transferable skills refers to skills that are common to multiple industries and are seen as a means of moving between industries. 

For example, if you were trained as a salesperson, the skills that will undoubtedly help you are communication, interpersonal skills, interaction with coworkers, time management skill, or maybe you are highly motivated.

You are always prepared for discussion, even if you have to give explanations. These are among the skills that can be applied in many fields.

What are the Benefits of Having Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills are the ones that can take you anywhere. They are abilities or qualities associated with your personality more than with your work or career.

Having these skills makes you attractive to employers and valuable if ever you leave them. The following are the benefits of transferable skills.

  • Transferable skills add value to job applicants in terms of their versatility
  • Transferable skills give you a competitive advantage in the job market
  • It builds confidence and makes you enthusiastic about learning new skills and improving existing ones
  • Transferable skills form a foundation for higher-paying jobs
  • You’re able to talk about your skills with any audience you want regardless of their industry or background

One of the main benefits of having transferrable skills is that they increase your marketability. The more marketable you are, the more likely other people are to hire you.

You Should Have the Following Transferable Skills

1. Adaptability 

This is a skill that enables a person to change a process or procedure when there is a problem.

For example, you can deal with an urgent issue while your manager is away. It helps you learn new software or processes in a short period, and can change how you work as a team or use tools.

2. Organization 

An organization is defined as the ability to plan, organize, and prioritize. It is the most critical non-technical skill needed in today’s organizations.

You need to have strong organizational skills to complete your tasks on time, or even early. 

3. Teamwork

Teamwork is the ability to work effectively with people in a group. In a team, you have to accept the fact that your team only works as a whole.

Therefore, you have something to produce a result, a goal. If you want to achieve this goal, you must be involved in teamwork properly.

4. Customer service 

The main role of anyone who works in customer service is to solve problems, offer solutions and maintain a positive relationship with their customers.

A great service person can adapt to new situations, anticipating problems and resolving them quickly. 

4. Leadership 

Leaders inspire their employees and organizations to accomplish more than they ever dreamed.

A leader’s most important quality is thoughtfulness, which includes weighing the impact of an action before making it.

The point of leadership competency is to develop the skills that enable a person to lead people and get things done.

6. Communication (both written and oral) 

In all industries, communication is a critical skill that allows you to succeed. It is one of the five core skills that employers look for in potential employees.

Communication skills are also vital in helping you to present information effectively with your coworkers. You also need it to socially integrate into the company with your peers or clientele you directly work with.

7. Problem-solving 

Every professional has to solve problems, whether it is at work or at home. Some problems are very easy to solve, while others require great skill and experience.

It’s important for you to know what constitutes a problem, how problems arise, and how to solve these kinds of issues before they get out of hand.

8. Analytical thinking 

Analytical thinking skills are used to problem-solve around issues that impact the business or its operations.

For example, someone with highly developed analytical thinking skills will have the ability to question routine events, devise solutions, and evaluate the outcomes.

9. Creativity 

This skill set can be very helpful in a job or business, especially for those who want to be their boss.

A certain amount of creativity will also enable you to adapt to new situations as they arise. This ability is crucial in today’s workplace.

10. Planning and time management 

The ability to plan and time management is a key skill for individuals who work across a wide range of settings.

People with good time management skills always find it easy to meet deadlines, efficiently organize various tasks, keep track of details, complete projects within the allotted time, and so on.

11. Information processing

Information processing is the ability to make sense of or synthesize information. It is a multi-faceted skill that includes sub-skills. It requires understanding the principles of logic and reasoning.

Processing information is an essential skill that impacts just about every aspect of your life.

12. Project management 

Project Managers are responsible for overseeing the completion of each specific project within an organization. They develop plans for the work to be accomplished, communicate them to team members, monitor progress, resolve problems that arise, and direct resources to key areas.

13. Attention to detail 

Attention to detail is an important skill that can get you ahead in life. It is described as precision and accuracy. The ability to spot and correct errors and to do things according to plan and instructions.

14. ICT skills

Information and communication technology (ICT) has become an important skill in today’s world. ICT skills enable people to use computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices for work, study, and life in general.

15. Performing risk assessments and cost savings calculations

Risk assessment and cost savings calculations is a transferable skills that you can use in all parts of your life. When things go wrong, how do you know what to do first and what to avoid?

A risk assessment and cost savings calculation provides a systematic framework for understanding and responding to your risks. And it’s not as hard as you may think.

16. Emotional intelligence 

Emotional intelligence has gained wide recognition over the years. It is what makes one person able to resolve conflict successfully while another seems to keep sparking it no matter how hard he tries. 

Fortunately, it is also a skill that can be learned. With sufficient effort and practice, people can develop their emotional intelligence and harness its power to benefit themselves and everyone around them

17. Prioritization

Learning to prioritize is an important skill for everyone, but it may be especially useful to you if you work in education.

Prioritization is about asking yourself these two questions: “Where should I put my time? Where should I put my energy? Prioritization skills have the potential to take you much further in life than just being able to manage your workload.

Tips for Enhancing Your Transferable Skills

The demand for transferable skills is at an all-time high. Companies are also looking for people who can think outside the box and solve problems. The key to success is developing transferable skills that can be applied in a variety of situations.

The following tips will help you develop and enhance your transferable skills.

  • Identify your transferable skills
  • Understand your current skills
  • Practice your transferable skills
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses
  • Understand the importance of your transferable skills

In the world of business, the lines between what is expected and what is required are blurred. If you’re able to learn and adapt to a new environment, you will be viewed as a valuable asset.

What Is the Best Way to Feature Your Transferable Skills on Your Résumé or Cover Letter?

In the context of a resume/CV, they’re skills that apply to most job functions.

Examples of these include skills in leadership, teamwork, and organization. It will be obvious, for instance, if you have a skill on your resume such as proofreading a book manuscript, that this is not a transferable skill. 

However, if you list a leadership, teamwork, or organization skill that comes directly from a job that you had previously held, then this would be evident during your next job search.  

Whenever you are writing a resume or cover letter, you should be sure to include any relevant transferable skills. It will be easier for the hiring manager to understand your skills if you have previous experience in a similar position.

This is exactly what you should do with your skills outside of work, not only on your CV but also at an interview. Explain how specific skills that apply to one job also benefit other jobs if asked about them.

Why Do Companies/Employers Prefer to Hire Employees with Transferable Skills? 

Employers look to transferable skills when employing employees to perform a task or job in another position or company. They may consist of work-related interests, skills, knowledge, or behaviors. 

These skills are broad and can be acquired through a variety of tasks, activities, and experiences. Many experts believe that transferable skills are more significant than hard knowledge. 

If you learn how to do something on the job it is easier to transfer such skill/knowledge than learning it from a book. A resume with transferable skills is generally more impressive than one with hard knowledge.

Transferable Skills and eLearning

Transferable skills are attitudes and behaviors you can use in a variety of contexts. When applied to e-learning, they represent the range of abilities learners need to transfer from their current work or study situation to another. 

The fact that you learn something at school does not guarantee that you will be able to apply it at home.

Almost everyone has experienced something similar: learning something at school and finding it difficult to apply it at home, due to our changing environment and mindset. 

Regardless of the purpose of the e-learning program, it is important to ask: what do you want the learner to do after the e-learning process?

eLearning programs must consider transferrable skills because they allow learners to apply the knowledge they gain in the e-learning environment to their everyday lives.

Therefore, an educational intervention (such as an e-learning program) must be designed in a way that makes it possible for learners to apply that knowledge in their lives after college.


How do you know if you have enough transferable skills?

Everyone has transferable skills, but there are varying levels of ‘transferability’. Some people have skills that are more transferable than others.

The more experience you have, the greater you’ll find your skill set can be easily applied in other professions. 

There’s no clear-cut answer to how many transferable skills you need. It’s dependent on the career you’re changing into and the experience of the hiring managers.

How can schools help students develop their transferable skills?

School may help students develop transferable skills by encouraging creative thinking, teamwork, initiative, and solving problems creatively.

Guidance can take the form of special sessions or courses on personal development and management skills.

Final Thoughts 

Learning new skills and acquiring wisdom throughout life is important for many reasons. By practicing new techniques and using advanced strategies, you also become more productive and efficient at work. 

Also, the willingness to learn new skills will play a significant role in your professional growth and your ability to advance your career.

Accordingly, by acquiring knowledge about the most suitable transferable skills, you will be able to better select applicable job positions that are commensurate with your capabilities.

While there are several transferable skills, I think the ability to solve problems is a must-learn for all. This is because in our daily lives or work, we’re often faced with new challenges and we need to learn how to deal with them effectively.

See the article on problem-solving skills to learn more about it.

Thanks for reading.